Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve heard the wisdom of finding a vocation that you love.
If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. — Marc Anthony
Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still. — Henry David Thoreau
I like the thought behind that premise, I really do, and I also recognize that it’s not always practical. Sometimes we end up in a career and we’re good at it, but not quite sure how that happened. It’s not what we intended at the beginning.
Then the thought of chucking away the years we’ve invested, the built-up salary, the four weeks of vacation….losing all that can be intimidating enough to keep us in place.
Maybe if you feel you’re stuck in a job or a career, you can do what I did for many years: Make your dream vocation a part-time job or your hobby.
Throughout my years in finance, I taught and spoke on my own time. I became engaged with organizations that offered opportunities to do so. It wasn’t every week or even every month, but it was enough to satisfy the longing for fulfillment of the purpose I felt was my true calling.
In Dr. Martin Seligman’s book Authentic Happiness he posits that to truly lead a happy and productive life, we should do work that encapsulates and makes strong use of our five greatest character strengths.
Dr. Seligman is associated with the University of Pennsylvania and the site noted at the end of this post offers various free psychological assessments. Figuring that I already knew my strengths, I decided to confirm them by taking the VIA Survey of Character Strengths questionnaire.
Because most of us DO feel we know ourselves, right? We’re typically not blind-sided by taking online personality quizzes.
But this is not a pop personality quiz. At 240 questions it takes about 20 minutes. The test results rank a total of 24 strengths from high to low. The higher number the strength, the more you need to incorporate it into your work to be happier.
Since I felt I knew myself, I assumed my top strength would be creativity (actually #8). Or maybe optimism (#11). Leadership? (#9).
My results left me looking like a dog who hears a sound he can’t identify. I stared at my results, head tilted, eyes squinting.
My #1 strength would leave me either relatively unemployable OR I would need to usurp the two men currently holding the only positions that would make my #1 strength a strict job requirement. Since my #1 strength is forgiveness and mercy, I figure I would need to replace either God or Pope Francis.
Because when I Google “What career requires forgiveness and mercy” (in quotation marks meaning that EXACT word search), there are no results found. Substituting vocation or job brings up the same zero findings.
Eliminating the quotation marks brings up job openings at Our Lady of Mercy or an application to become a nun at Sisters of Mercy. Since I’m not Catholic, I’m married, and I don’t like wearing black, the nun gig will not work out. Also, would they even allow my hound dog at the convent?
Enough kidding. (Humor was #12.) I DO want to understand how forgiveness and mercy can help me be a better speaking coach.
As any of us travels the road of forgiveness and mercy, we come to a place of transformation. Because forgiveness is transformative. It’s this tremendous letting go of a weight within your heart. Even if the person being forgiven isn’t aware that he/she had done something that needed to be forgiven…even if the person is aware but isn’t sorry…even if the person is no longer in your life. Yes, even if whatever scenario you can imagine.
So as I’m encouraging people to find their own voices to tell their individual stories, I will remind them to be kind and merciful to themselves as they learn. That when they’re watching the videos of their presentation, to be forgiving of whatever flaws show up, note what they want to change, and take the positive steps to be a transformed speaker.
And as always, I will encourage each student to be a good audience member…forgiving the flaws in other speakers and offering mercy by applauding first and the loudest.